American Scene

ALABAMA

Candle services need firefighters

HOMEWOOD — Churches in an Alabama city better count on a few extra guests at Christmas Eve candlelight ceremonies.

The Birmingham suburb of Homewood requires a permit and four off-duty firefighters to attend any service where candles are passed out to parishioners.

Fire Chief John Bresnan said the rule has been in place for 10 years, but many churches didn’t know about it.

Pastor Sid Burgess of Edgewood Presbyterian Church said that the rule “does seem like overkill” and that the cost of up to $400 to hire firefighters can be a lot for a small church.

The rule doesn’t apply if ministers and other church leaders are the only ones handling the flames.

The fire chief said the rule was to ensure safety in crowded rooms with open flames.

COLORADO

Boy shoots self with hidden gun

CORTEZ — Authorities say a 12-year-old Colorado boy accidentally shot himself in the leg while playing with a loaded pistol that his parents had hidden behind the family Christmas tree.

Montezuma County Sheriff Gerald Wallace said that the boy was shot in the calf Monday morning but that the injury wasn’t serious.

Sheriff Wallace said the parents had left for work, but other family members took the boy to a hospital.

The sheriff said he won’t recommend charges because the parents had left the .22-caliber pistol a reasonable distance from the child.

It wasn’t clear why the weapon was hidden there. Sheriff Wallace said the boy was “digging around” when he found it. His father had other weapons locked in a safe.

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